Missouri Democrat Senate hopefuls discuss abolishing the filibuster, Medicare for all • Missouri Independent

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Trudy Busch Valentine was the just one against Medicare For All. 

Spencer Toder wants to analyze the U.S. Supreme Court justices who said they’d uphold abortion rights after which overtuned Roe v. Wade. 

Lucas Kunce suggested much more incremental policies than most candidates to curb gun violence. 

And nearly all the nine candidates who participated within the quasi-debate of Democratic Senate hopefuls Monday night supported abolishing the U.S. Senate filibuster, saying it was essential to get any vital laws passed. That features the three candidates considered the frontrunners within the race — Kunce, Toder and Valentine. 

“With what we’ve got currently, we’ve got no opportunity to avoid wasting our democracy and that is completely essential,” Toder said of the filibuster during Monday’s forum held over Zoom and arranged by the League of Women Voters.

Nine of the 11 candidates looking for the Democratic nomination appeared for no less than a part of the forum. Kunce missed the start of the event, joined from his automotive and fell off the decision at one point. Valentine left early. 

And while the talk was broad-ranging and surface-level, it presented a possibility to get candidates on the record on various issues from expanding the U.S. Supreme Court to healthcare to abolishing the Senate filibuster. It also separated the progressive candidates from the moderates. 

Each candidate was given the chance to present their campaign spiel — Valentine’s pledges to bring people together, Kunce’s desire to shift power to the working class and Toder’s record of helping 1000’s of Missourians access safety-net advantages — to the audience, which garnered 260 views on YouTube. 

Valentine, who has declined to take part in previous debates and candidate forums, said there are enough lawyers and profession politicians in Washington. The U.S. Senate needs someone with the center of a nurse and “leadership that brings people together and brings out the very best in one another.” 

“Our country must heal,” Valentine said in her opening statement. “Our country needs acts of kindness to lift one another up and be all we will be. We’ve to stop fighting and begin caring about one another and find the enjoyment that comes from helping one another.”

Valentine’s family owned a majority stake in Anheuser-Busch until InBev bought the corporate for $52 billion in 2008. Valentine and her husband have a net price between $69.4 and $219.4 million, in response to her financial disclosure.

The central message of Kunce’s campaign is that wealthy people, like Valentine, must have less power in politics. Kunce grew up in a working class family in Jefferson City and attended Yale University and the University of Missouri-Columbia before joining the U.S. Marines. He most recently worked for a think tank in D.C. where he earned $120,000.

“We want to fundamentally change who has power on this country,” Kunce said. “Most people who you see up within the Senate…they don’t know the way average folks in Missouri live. They don’t know the way the common American lives.”

And Toder says his campaign is built on helping people, not only messaging. He has raised greater than $50,000 for Afghan refugees and helped families enroll for child tax credits and Medicaid. He said Missouri needs leadership that’s “about public service and never about celebrity or about money.”

“I’m running because my wife and I actually have a two yr old son,” Toder said. “And after we gave birth to our precious son, we checked out one another and we said, ‘What form of a world did we just bring him into? What have we done and what can we do to make certain that his life and the lifetime of all children is healthier than generations past.’”

On the problems 

Every candidate who appeared Monday — Valentine, Kunce, Toder, Jewel Kelly Jr., Pat Kelly, Gena Ross, Joshua Shipp, Clarence “Clay” Taylor and Carla “Coffee” Wright — supported canceling student loan debt. 

They overwhelmingly opposed the death penalty. They supported enacting laws to limit access to firearms. They urged passage of voting rights laws named for civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, who died in 2020.

“We’ve seen an assault on our democracy and our sacred right vote,” Valentine said. “Republicans are determined to make it as hard as possible to vote, especially for minorities, seniors and disabled. And if we don’t have our democracy, what do we’ve got?”

Ross, a community college professor, agreed Congress must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which might re-establish parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down by the Supreme Court, including a requirement that states that historically discriminated against voters of color receive federal approval prior to changing their voting laws.

“It’s our right to have the option to vote,” Ross said. “It’s like what are they afraid of?”

Jewel Kelly, an Air Force veteran and small business owner, said Democrats must do more, noting the dearth of Democratic candidates in some parts of the state. 

“So yes, we’d like to vote,” Kelly said. “But we also need to arrange and we’d like to recruit candidates and we’d like to support candidates in order that we are able to have a Democrat for each single ballot. That’s how we protect voting rights.”

On healthcare, the candidates universally supported extending subsidies for the Inexpensive Care Act which might be set to run out this yr. And most of them went farther, saying they desired to see Medicare For All, which amounts to a single-payer healthcare system. 

Except Valentine. She supports a public option healthcare plan. 

In a “yes or no” section of the forum, each candidate was asked whether or not they supported Medicare For All. 

“No,” she said. “It might cost $30 trillion, and —”

The moderator cut her off: “That’s just yes or no.”

Valentine, Kunce and Toder all said they supported abolishing the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court that protected abortion rights until it was overturned last month

“Missouri’s law is cruel and extreme,” Valentine said, “and girls and girls will suffer and die. The choice to have an abortion needs to be between a girl and her doctor, not the federal government or politicians.”

Kunce, who opposed abortion when he first ran for office in 2006, said he supports abolishing the filibuster. He relates the overturning of Roe v. Wade to his central campaign message — that policy within the U.S. favors the rich and privileged. He said “country club Republicans” worked to pass Missouri’s law barring abortions in just about all cases with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. 

“That’s crazy,” Kunce said, “and so they’re willing to do this, they haven’t any problem doing that since it’s not gonna affect them. They’ve wealth; they’ve power. They’re gonna go some place else. They’re still gonna get abortions identical to they’ve at all times done.”

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